Taxi alternatives & booking apps

New booking apps such as Uber, goCatch and Ingogo are changing the Australian taxi landscape. CHOICE logs on to see how they compare.
 
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01.Have smartphone, will travel

Hand holding white smartphone displaying tax-booking app

If you catch taxis, have a smartphone and live in one of Australia’s larger cities, you might have noticed some new players in the taxi-booking game – apps. These apps allow you to book, track and pay your taxi driver directly, all without a single phone call or cash changing hands. 

Currently, the taxi apps on the Australian market with the highest penetration are Uber, goCatch and Ingogo, who can make booking a ride as easy as pressing a button.

So what do these new kids on the block offer? CHOICE takes a closer look.

Uber

Uber originated in the US and is available in more than 80 cities worldwide. In Australia, it’s only operating in Melbourne and Sydney, though it will be launching in Brisbane soon. Uber has grand plans to eventually roll out to every major city in the world, says Uber’s Sydney general manager David Rohrsheim.

Sydney customers have the choice of booking an UberBlack, UberLux or UberTaxi service, all of which have with a different level of service, luxury and price.

For now, Melbourne customers  have the option of UberBlack and UberX only. 

  • UberTaxi: no credit card surcharge and customers pay $2 booking fee. 
  • UberBlack: Fares are typically 20-30% higher than a regular taxi for a “premium” experience with Holden Caprice, BMW and Audi vehicles.

Once they’re registered, customers tap to be connected to a driver and can track them via GPS. The driver's name and car details also appear on the app, and you can contact them if you need to. 

How do you pay?

  • Credit card or PayPal account.
  • Uber also offers the ability to split the cab fare with friends.
  • Customers can then leave a star rating and comments on the app.

Uber is available from Google Play and iTunes App Store.

Want to know more? Read about CHOICE staffer Matthew Steen's experience with Uber. 

goCatch

The NSW government-backed goCatch connects consumers directly with registered taxi drivers who have downloaded the app in every capital city in Australia. Co-founder Andrew Campbell argues this services provides certainty of getting a cab and reliability of service for passengers compared with standard cabs.

"With goCatch you know when you've got a taxi and you know exactly where your driver is. You can see them moving on the map and you can also call them on the phone." 

How do you pay?

Similar to Uber, goCatch allows users to leave a rating for their drivers and pay for the fare through the app. While there is currently a seven and a half per cent surcharge in most cities (five per cent in Victoria), Campbell says this is set to be reduced to five per cent Australia-wide soon.

Hot tip: GoCatch also offers users the ability to offer a tip for the driver, to increase your chances of getting a cab faster during peak times. However, the Australian Taxi Industry Association (ATIA) has said this "bidding war" is an unfair practice and discriminatory towards passengers who can’t afford to tip.

goCatch is available from Google Play, BlackBerry World, Windows Phone and iTunes App Store.

Ingogo

Named in the top 100 of Australia's coolest companies in 2013 by Anthill magazine, Ingogo is a Sydney- and Melbourne-based taxi-booking app, started up by Moshtix founder Hamish Petrie and backed by Australian investors and a government grant.

"The taxi industry is ripe for disruption,” Petrie told BRW in 2013. “It's been monopolised for so long and mobile technology offers a way to disrupt the incumbents pretty drastically."

Similar to goCatch, Ingogo allows passengers to locate their driver on the map, call and pay for the ride all within the app. Ingogo claims its booking and payment fees are lower than other networks and offers a feature that guarantees passengers $10 in credit if an advance booking is cancelled and can’t be replaced.

Ingogo is available from Google Play and iTunes App Store.

 
 

 

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